2012 ELECTION

Joe Biden: Mitt Romney is out of step with American values

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EXETER, N.H. (AP) - Eyeing the November election, Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday called presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney "out of touch" and "out of step" with history and basic American values.

Biden also opened a new line of attack by introducing the "Romney rule" and contrasting it with President Barack Obama's hard push for the so-called "Buffett rule."

The measure, which the White House named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, says wealthy taxpayers should not pay taxes at a lower rate than middle-class wage-earners.

In contrast, Biden said Romney not only wants to make Bush-era tax cuts permanent but also wants to give the wealthy additional tax cuts each year that are worth more than the annual income of an average, middle-class family.

"It amazes me. He offers this prescription as if it is somehow a new idea - like it's something that we haven't seen," Biden said. "Folks, you've seen the movie. It doesn't end well. Where has he been? Could it be he's out of touch?"

Biden said Romney wants to take the nation down the same road that led to economic recession.

"It is true that the very top did very well, but the impact was our economy faltered, the middle class shrunk, the poor got poorer, and ultimately, the economy collapsed," he said.

Biden said the money for tax cuts would be better invested in education, research and development, and clean energy.

While stressing that he wasn't questioning Romney's patriotism, the vice president also called Romney's economic views "out of step with basic American values" of rewarding hard work and ensuring that everyone plays by the same rules.

"Gov. Romney calls the president out of touch," he said. "Hey, how many of y'all have a Swiss bank account? How many of you have somewhere between $20 and $100 million in your (retirement account)?"

The trip was Biden's third of the year to New Hampshire. Obama won the state in 2008 but it's expected to be heavily contested in November. His approval rating in the state, after hitting a low point in October, had rebounded to just above 50 percent in February, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll.

The survey also found Obama ahead of Romney in a general election match-up.

Before Biden spoke, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told New Hampshire reporters that the Buffett rule wouldn't do anything to solve the administration's "out of control spending."

"I just think it's pretty funny that he chose the 'Live Free or Die' state to promote a new, big-government tax gimmick," Priebus said, referring to New Hampshire's motto.

As the general election campaign begins, Biden's comments have given voters a peek inside the Democratic playbook.

He has delivered a series of hard-hitting campaign speeches in the past few weeks, branding Romney as "consistently wrong" and "uninformed" on foreign policy, as someone aiming to "end Medicare as we know it" and as an advocate of the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

While Obama largely avoids direct engagement, Biden is diving into the No. 2's traditional attack-dog role - earlier and more aggressively than usual, some say - with comments designed to singe Romney.

The Romney campaign hasn't let Biden's critiques go unchecked and has pushed back at specific statements and dredged up past Biden comments that cast Obama in a poor light.

Before Biden's visit to New Hampshire, former Gov. John Sununu issued a tongue-in-cheek welcome on behalf of Romney's campaign.

"I don't agree with much of what Joe Biden says, but I completely agreed with him in 2007 when he said Barack Obama wasn't ready to be president. That was true then, and is still true today," Sununu said.

Ticket mates are typically expected to land the toughest blows in presidential politics. It lets the presidential nominee stay above the fray and focus on loftier goals and grand themes of their campaigns.

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